Sports

USF DE Aaron Lynch Declares for 2014 NFL Draft; Bucs Target?

By: Justin Pawlowski - on twitter: @Commishonline
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(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

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University of South Florida redshirt sophomore defensive end Aaron Lynch (Cape Coral) has informed the school that he will forego his final two seasons of eligibility and declare himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.

“We thank Aaron for his contributions to our program over the past two years and wish him all the best in his future,” USF head coach Willie Taggart said. “We look forward to Aaron representing USF well in the NFL.”

Lynch led USF with six sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss in the 2013 season, his first playing for the Bulls. The 6-6, 244-pound defensive end earned first team All-AAC honors while posting 30 tackles on the season. He previously earned Freshman All-America honors while playing the 2011 season at Notre Dame. Lynch transferred to USF prior to the 2012 season, which he sat out under NCAA transfer rules.

Lynch will be an intriguing prospect and potentially tough prospect for NFL personnel to figure out. He displayed all of the natural ability to make him worth a 1st round draft pick, but immaturity and lack of discipline could force Lynch to slip on draft day.

Other than a large amount of offsides and personal foul penalties called on him, Lynch had a difficult time keeping his emotions in check during games.

Against the Memphis Tigers, Lynch was called for three offsides penalties. While visibly upset as he was taken off the field after his 3rd violation, Lynch left the bench area in the middle of the game to go and speak to family members in the stands. Um, this is not acceptable in major college football, and should give NFL evaluators something to seriously consider when deciding on Lynch. If Lynch thought the rigors of playing in a game for USF against Memphis was difficult mentally and emotionally, then the NFL could eat him alive.

Following Lynch’s abandoning of the bench area in that same Memphis game, Lynch got into a verbal spat with USF fans about 20 rows up in the south end-zone. While screaming at these fans, Lynch began to tear up. USF head coach Willie Taggart needed to come to Lynch’s aid to calm him down. Lynch’s two family members whom he had left the bench area to go talk to then proceeded to the south end-zone stands to confront the fans who were talking trash to him.

At the time, USF was losing to Memphis late in the game and not many fans were left. However, imagine a player in the NFL pulling something like this in the middle of a game. That player would face tremendous repercussions that could ultimately end up with his release from the team. It is hard to be counted on when a player becomes this emotional just because a few things don’t go his way during the course of a game.

Lynch should pass the eye test of most scouts and should test well at the combine and his pro day. As of right now, I expect Lynch to be projected as a late 2nd/early 3rd round selection. As we get closer to the 2014 NFL Draft, it would not surprise me to see Lynch start to get 1st round mentions, but ultimately go early in round 2.

Lynch could end up as a potential target for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs need a defensive end that can provide a boost to their pass rush.  While Lynch does have some emotional and maturity issues, the Buccaneers have built a defense with talent and leadership that could help Lynch focus on doing his job and keeping his emotions in check. As a 2nd round pick, Lynch might not feel the same pressure a 1st round selection would feel. Speaking strictly of natural talent, Lynch would provide more natural God-given pass rushing talent than anyone the Bucs currently have on their roster.

Lynch to the Bucs, or any team in the top of the 2nd round, might seem like a reach now, but any team looking for a boost to their pass rush will have a difficult time overlooking the natural talent Aaron Lynch could bring to their team.

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